(Knights of Columbus San Salvador Council #283)

Saint John Chrysostom declared that “Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.”

Beginning at 1:30 p.m. this Sunday afternoon, Feb. 25, those who head to St. Paul’s Church in South Philadelphia will have that definition reaffirmed through rosary offerings and a healing Mass named in memory of Father Bill Atkinson, O.S.A. Making history as the first paraplegic ordained to the Catholic priesthood, Father Atkinson remains an inspiration to all who face seemingly insurmountable odds.

“He’s someone many more people should come to know about and appreciate,” Jon Tamarin, a Grand Knight with the Knights of Columbus San Salvador Council #283, said of the Philadelphia native and 1963 alumnus of Monsignor Bonner High School in Upper Darby.

“He made it apparent that no challenge can’t be overcome, especially through trust in the Lord.”

Tamarin’s Knights of Columbus chapter is teaming up with the Augustinian Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova to host the events. They have dubbed the latter part of the day, which begins at 2:00 p.m., as a “Healing Mass for the Sick, Elderly, and Those in Need of Prayer.”

“There’s definitely comfort in being a person of faith, like Father Bill, who persists and realizes that we can always attain grace from God,” he said. “There are challenges everywhere, especially to evangelization, but challenges can’t stop us [from persevering].”

Setbacks did not deter Father Atkinson following a tobogganing accident in 1965 that left him almost completely paralyzed from the neck down. Hoping to join the Augustinian order, he saw his physical injury as no obstacle to his vocation. His high school alma mater’s website declares that during his teaching days, his “mere presence created discipline, order, and control” and that he was also a “compassionate confessor.”

“In other words, he [Father Atkinson] wanted us to know we are here to serve God and help one another each day,” Tamarin said of Father Atkinson’s reputation.

Tamarin and his peers will look to further the acquisition of sainthood that they are hoping for Father Atkinson. They have seen movement on this front, so every bit of outreach that they can do for the man, who died in 2006, stands as a reverent sign of their acknowledgment of his profound legacy.

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“He could have easily quit, and that’s true of many of us today who think there are too many burdens,” Tamarin said, noting that he and the Knights will further their ties to Father Atkinson with their involvement in May 19 Procession of the Saints component of the Italian Market Festival. They are set to have a banner proclaiming his budding recognition.

“He didn’t [quit], though, and we shouldn’t [either] because God’s calling us to do so much more. Even if everything seems lost, God’s present.”

For more information on the Healing Mass, visit here.


To learn more about Father Atkinson and to support his cause through the Father Bill Atkinson Guild, visit the official Augustinian website at www.augustinian.org/the-cause. Visitors to the site can also access there the 2020 PBS documentary entitled “Extraordinary: The Bill Atkinson Story.”